What You Can Do Before the Next Earthquake or Tsunami

Know How to Survive the Earthquake

Protect yourself during the earthquake. 

INDOORS: Drop to the ground, cover your neck and head with your arm.  If there is a sturdy table or desk nearby, slide under it and hold onto a leg or side.  Stay there until the shaking stops.  

OUTSIDE: Drop to the ground and cover your neck and head with your arm.  Look at your surroundings.  If you are beneath a tree, power line or something else that could fall, move away to a safer spot.  Stay there until the shaking stops. 

IN A MOVING VEHICLE: An earthquake may feel like you have a flat tire. Slow down and pull over to the side of the road.  Choose a spot in the open away from power lines or bridges if possible. Put your car in park and pull on the parking brake. Stay here until the shaking stops. 

IN A THEATER OR AUDITORIUM: Drop down between the seats if you can safely do so.  Otherwise, bend over so your head is below the height of the seat backs.  Cover your neck and head with your arm to protect yourself. Only exit the theater when the shaking has completely stopped and it is safe to do so.  Consider getting a flashlight App for your phone and use for illumination. 

IN A MARKET OR STORE: Drop down to the ground next to your shopping cart.  If you can safely do so, slide yourself and your cart away from hazardous items like class jars and bottles.  Use your cart to shield your head and neck.  When the shaking has stopped, slowly and carefully walk to the store exit, watching out for broken glass and slippery liquids on the floor.

IN A WHEEL CHAIR OR USING A WALKER: Put the brakes on your chair, bend over if you can safely do so and put your arm over your head and neck.

The most important thing to do while the ground is shaking is TO STAY IN ONE SPOT.  Most injuries in California earthquakes are caused by people walking or running during the earthquake.

Check out our Living on Shaky Ground highlights for more information about how to protect yourself (Step 5 takeaway) and things to consider if you have limited mobility (Special Considerations for People with Limited Mobility). 

Want to learn how to say “drop, cover and hold on” in many languages? Check out our list! Drop, Cover & Hold On


Know How to Safely Evacuate

 One of the first steps in preparing is knowing what hazard zones are in your area. You can learn about this by looking at the evacuation maps for your community or exploring the California Geological Survey’s interactive map [link to Hazard maps page].

So the question is: “Are you in the hazard zone?” If you're in a tsunami zone, it’s important to safely evacuate once the shaking lessens and you’re able to move. Time is of the essence! The largest tsunami will come from an earthquake you will feel. Carefully make your way to high ground along the best evacuation route to evacuate the tsunami zone. 

Are You in a Tsunami Zone?

Act Now to Prepare

In the end, practice makes perfect! Sign up for emergency alerts

  • Know the best evacuation route for you - practice walking your route at night and in stormy weather. 

  • Keep a “grab and go” kit by the door with what you need to survive for the day. 

  • Create emergency plans and discuss with family, coworkers and neighbors. 

  • Consider how to evacuate pets - such as dogs on leashes and cats in crates. 

  • Prearrange assistance from neighbors if you need help evacuating. 

  • Make copies of your important documents and store them in a safe place. 

  • To sign up for County alerts and learn more about other methods visit: www.weather.gov/eureka/alerts 

  • Sign up for Earthquake Warning California alerts  to receive notifications right to your phone at https://earthquake.ca.gov/get-alerts/ 

Preparedness Resources